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San Jose State rallies to beat Hawaii 28-27

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 11:45 p.m. HST, Oct 14, 2011

San Jose State wideout Chandler Jones caught a 37-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds left from quarterback Matt Faulkner tonight as the Spartans rallied for a 28-27 Western Athletic Conference win over Hawaii.

It was the third touchdown of the game for Jones, who also scored on a 20-yard reverse and a 23-yard fumble recovery on a kickoff return by UH that lifted the Spartans to the big WAC win. The Spartans are 3-4 overall and 2-1 in league play. Hawaii fell to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in conference.

The two teams combined for 12 turnovers, the most in a Division I game this season, but it was a long 87-yard drive by the Spartans that sealed the deal in this exciting matchup telecast nationally on ESPN.

San Jose State built a 20-7 halftime lead thanks to five turnovers by the Warriors, but Hawaii rallied to take a 27-22 lead late in the fourth thanks to six forced turnovers by the UH defense after intermission.

Safety Richard Torres got Hawaii back in the game, forcing back-to-back turnovers, including an interception that gave Hawaii the fooball at the San Jose State 28. And UH quarterback Bryant Moniz, who had three turnovers in the first half, didn't disappoint.

He hit slotback Miah Ostrowski from 19 yards out on fourth and 1 to cut San Jose State's lead to 20-14 with 6:48 left in the third as Kenton Chun added the PAT.

On the ensuing series, San Jose State drove the ball deep into Hawaii territory, but a big interception, the fourth forced turnover of the second half for the UH defense, on a third-and-short play by safety John Hardy-Tuliau changed everything.

San Jose State set up in a tight scrum formation, as Faulkner faked the handoff. Torres forced a soft toss by the San Jose State quarterback that Hardy-Tuliau easily picked.

From their own 18, the Warriors needed just four plays to score on a 2-yard run by Joey Iosefa as Chun added the PAT to make it 21-20 Hawaii with 1:25 left in the third. The big run was a 74-yard scamper by Moniz on a third-and-4 play.

On the enusing series, San Jose State's Faulkner threw another pick, this time to UH cornerback Mike Edwards, that set up the Warriors at the San Jose State 40. Two plays later, Iosefa took it in from 32 yards out as Hawaii built the advantage to 27-20. Chun's PAT was blocked and San Jose State's Duke Ihenacho returned it for a huge two points that made it 27-22 Hawaii with 11:45 left in the game. What made it more impressive was that halfway through the return, he hurt his leg, but he kept going to score.

San Jose State took the ball deep into Hawaii territory once more on the next series, but settled for a missed 50-yard field-goal attempt by place-kicker Jens Alvernik. He also hit the upright from 30 in the opening quarter.

But Hawaii had trouble in the kicking game as well, as Tyler Hadden had a 42-yard field-goal attempt blocked to give San Jose State the ball at its own 44. But the Spartans gave it right back, as Spartans running back Brandon Rutley fumbled for the third time of the night. It was the 12th turnover of the game as Hawaii took over at its own 35 with Aaron Brown scooping up the loose ball.

The Warriors had a chance to run out the clock later in the fourth, but came up just a yard short, facing a fourth and 1 at their own 44. They elected to punt, but Faulkner engineered a beautiful drive to win the game.

Hawaii overcame an early mistake by Moniz to score in the first quarter, going 80 yards on only nine plays to take a 7-0 advantage. Facing a third and 13 from the San Jose State 16, Moniz rolled out to his right, pulled up quickly and hit a wide open Royce Pollard for six and Chun added the PAT with 2:53 left in the first.

The Spartans came right back to tie it up on a 20-yard reverse by Jones on a huge third-down play as Alvernik added the PAT to tie it at 7-7 with 14:51 remaining in the second quarter. Alvernik later hit a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-7 San Jose State with 11:33 left in the half.

On the ensuing offensive series for UH, Moniz threw only his second interception of the season and his first in 152 attempts. It appeared it was a 71-yard pick six by San Jose State corner Peyton Thompson, but a penalty 30 yards away from the play brought back the return as the UH defense held once again, forcing a punt.

Moniz came right back and threw another interception as safety James Orth picked off an errant toss down the middle and returned it to the Hawaii 21. But once again, the UH defense made it tough on the Spartans, forcing them to settle for a field goal by Alvernik from only 19 yards out. The UH defense held the Spartans, who had a first and goal from the 4, on three straight run plays. San Jose State called timeout to think things over, but took the three points to make it 13-7 with 4:11 left in the half.

On the ensuing kickoff, Scott Harding fumbled and Jones picked it up and ran it in untouched from 23 yards out to make it 20-7 San Jose State with 4:01 left in the half, but it could have been so much worse.

The Spartans missed a golden opportunity to score early, recovering a fumble by Moniz at the Warriors 8. The Hawaii defense held, forcing a missed field-goal attempt by Alvernik from only 30 yards away. He hit the right upright.

The Spartans thought they had scored on a third-down pass play from Faulkner to wideout Noel Grigsby, but Hardy-Tuliau poked the ball out to force the incomplete pass.

Hawaii had a late second-half drive come to an end after Pollard fumbled at the San Jose State 11.

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